Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: Jacqueline: As an adult woman–and the vice president of a marketing firm–I shouldn’t be waiting by my office window to ogle the mystery man who jogs by every morning at 11:45. Sure, he’s a gorgeous, perfect specimen of the human race, but I can’t bring myself to hit on a total stranger. However, my best friend-slash-colleague Vince Carson thinks I should do more than talk to the guy. In fact, he’s borderline obsessive about “getting me laid.” (His words.) But the more time we spend together, the more it’s clear: The one I’m falling for is Vince.
Vince: Jackie Butler’s got it bad for some pompous, over-pumped A-hole who struts his stuff past her window. That doesn’t bother me. I know she deserves nice things. What does bother me is that she friend-zoned me big-time last year, so I can’t ask her out myself. But what if I set her up with Mr. Steroids? Then, when he breaks her heart, I can swoop in and save her like the nice guy I am. Everything’s going according to plan . . . until we share a ridiculously epic kiss. And suddenly anything is possible.
I don’t think I paid too much attention when I read the blurb for this book, not that it matters really, because I love Lemmon’s writing; but when the story begins, Jackie is anxiously awaiting “Mr. Hot & Sexy running dude” to jog past her office window. She’s so excited I thought running guy was the hero. I was so wrong, and happily so!
In Eye Candy, we meet Jackie and Vince, co vice presidents at a marketing firm. Their different work styles and approach to marketing concepts complement each other and make for a very successful team. It doesn’t hurt that they are best friends out of the office, spending evenings and weekends at each other’s homes, having movie and pizza nights Both Vince and Jackie are divorced. Jackie’s husband cheated on her, and Vince’s wife just up and decided one day she was moving on. Vince was devastated and since Jackie knew what he was going through, she reached out, spent time and was there for Vince. Having divorce in common might have brought them together, but their relationship is so much more.
Both Vince and Jackie have approached post divorce dating differently. Unbeknownst to Jackie, Vince has had a few one night stands to get past his divorce, while Jackie tried online dating to no success. Jackie has since given up on men, but allows herself the daily viewing of the God-like Adonis who runs past her window. She claims that’s enough for her, but her friend Kayla starts encouraging her to ask the runner out. Jackie’s not sure, but when Vince also encourages her, she figures why not and takes the leap. Vince’s encouragement has ulterior motives though. He’s hoping to be there to console Jackie when running dude shows his true colors and breaks her heart.
The plot device Lemmon uses here to encourage our protagonists to move from friends to lovers is one that I’ve seen before. Both Vince and Jackie are aware of an attraction but due to their failed marriages they are unwilling to explore anything more than friendship. They can’t see past their insecurities and decide that they are happy with the as is, status quo of being platonic friends. Vince takes things one step further, however, when he begins to act as Jackie’s coach, going out on pretend dates and have kissing practice. I loved this part of the story–Vince dating Jackie under the ruse of acting as coach, while Jackie easily goes along. It is clear to everyone that they have great chemistry, but after each date and some scorching kisses, they go back to just being friends.
Though the initial scheme was that both Jackie and Vince would find someone to date, focus on Jackie and JT come to the forefront pretty quickly. Jackie is smitten and quite proud of herself for taking the plunge and asking JT out. She likes JT, and we watch her gain some confidence in herself after each date. Vince on the other hand isn’t interested in anyone but Jackie; he’s just waiting for JT to screw up…and he does opening the door for Vince exactly as he thought it would.
Lemmon puts a twist on the friends to lovers theme by giving us a bit of a love triangle. While JT has a starring role in the beginning, he quickly moves out of the spotlight as focus shifts to Vince and his pursuit of Jackie. I loved Vince. He had it rough having to fake date and pretend kiss Jackie when it’s really all he wanted to do. But they’d been good friends first, and shared a lot of their vulnerabilities with each other after their divorces, so Vince knew not to push. He knew Jackie had to make the realization that they belong together in her own way, and in her own time. Of course, there are bumps along the way because nothing ever goes as planned in a romance, and while a bit predictable, I still very much enjoyed Vince and Jackie’s story.
While not entirely unique in plot, I always enjoy Ms. Lemmon’s contemporaries. They are truly the perfect balance of humor and emotion with characters that are easy to fall for. I loved Jackie and Vince. The scene where they both give in is so well done, you could feel the longing and want and had me thinking, “just do it already!”. She also easily provides a segue into the next book. I’m very interested in Vince’s buddy Davis who makes several appearances as he encourages Vince to go after Jackie. Davis too is divorced, only we have no clue why–and he is a mess about it. Davis’ story is next in Arm Candy out in September.